Emergence of an Ecosystems-Based Fisheries Management Intervention in New England's Marine Fisheries

Authors: Catherine King*, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: fisheries, ecosystems based management, ethnography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Bayside B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This research investigates the emergence of ecosystems-based fisheries management (EBFM) for New England's marine fisheries in the context of the "crisis" that is escalating in its groundfish fishery. Through close observations of the practices of fisheries scientists in coordination with managers at the New England Fisheries Management Council, I study how knowledge is being produced and employed for the development of a Fisheries Ecosystem Plan. This ethnography of the fishery contributes a better understanding of the ecosystems-based management intervention as an emergent construction produced by networks of associations, and not strictly as a policy prescription by experts on ecology and socio-economics. Rather than conceptualizing the socioecological system of the fishery as a kind of causative domain, observations and analysis are positioned to see it as a network that continually emerges through the relationships between actors, human and non-human, who exercise power and produce actions through these associations. Using this perspective to analyze efforts to construct EBFM for New England fisheries illuminates reasons why contributions of the “best science available” towards understanding the ecology of fishery habitats, and the application of sophisticated resource economics and social science, do not directly translate into successful environmental governance with thriving ecosystems and fishing communities. Ecosystems-based management theory emphasizes that uncertainty and complexity in socioecological systems are poorly addressed by solutions that require controllable and predictable objects for management; however, preliminary EBFM implementation strategies in New England do not address this issue, perpetuating problems that this effort seeks to resolve.

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